As much as it may have evolved, in the human animal, as a motivation system for mate-finding, it was rarely given great consideration in the final reckoning of conjugal choice.
The twentieth century reduced it all to smithereens.
Others choose for you; they bring five boxes of cereal to your door, ask you to select one, and then return to the warehouse with the four others. It is tempting to think of online dating as a sophisticated way to address the ancient and fundamental problem of sorting humans into pairs, except that the problem isn’t very old.
Civilization, in its various guises, had it pretty much worked out.
Lives hang in the balance, and yet we have typically relied for our choices on happenstance—offhand referrals, late nights at the office, or the dream of meeting cute.
Online dating sites, whatever their more mercenary motives, draw on the premise that there has got to be a better way.
Citing the hours of editing and effort involved in its creation, Kayla Lacks printed out the text of her OKCupid profile and mailed it to the Iowa Writers Workshop as the manuscript portion of her application.
In a fractured and bewildered landscape of fern bars, ladies’ nights, Plato’s Retreat, “The Bachelor,” sexting, and the concept of the “cougar,” the Internet promised reconnection, profusion, and processing power.
Society—family, tribe, caste, church, village, probate court—established and enforced its connubial protocols for the presumed good of everyone, except maybe for the couples themselves.
The criteria for compatibility had little to do with mutual affection or a shared enthusiasm for spicy food and Fleetwood Mac.
Men were asked to rank drawings of women’s hair styles: a back-combed updo, a Patty Duke bob.
Another question, in a section called “Philosophy of Life Values,” read, “Had I the ability I would most like to do the work of (choose two): (1) Schweitzer. (3) Picasso.” Some of the questions were gender-specific.